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Bill gives 200 crims 'get out of jail early' cards

Wayne Mapp National Justice Spokesperson

2 October 2001

Goff's bill gives 200 crims 'get out of jail early' cards

Justice Minister Phil Goff's abolition of suspended sentences under the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill would give 200 criminals 'get out of jail early' cards, National's Justice spokesperson Wayne Mapp said today.

Dr Mapp obtained the information through parliamentary questions. Mr Goff's reply stated* 'the abolition of suspended sentences would lead to a reduction of 200 inmates on the basis that offenders who would previously have had a suspended sentence activated following their reconviction, would receive sentences of the length of the sentence for their current sentence only, as opposed to the current sentence plus the activated sentence'.

"Suspended sentences are an important tool in the judicial armoury. Judges are able to impose a significant sentence reflecting societal standards in relation to crime but suspend the sentence in appropriate circumstances. The sentence is a sword of Damocles over the recidivist. The fact that 200 criminals have had the sentence activated shows it works.

"The prison sentence of two years for Mark Middleton recognised that threatening to kill is a serious matter. Suspending the sentence meant his special circumstances could be taken into account.

"Abolishing suspended sentences is a big mistake. The fact that this move would free up 200 places in our prisons is probably the real reason behind the Minister's move to abolish suspended sentences. Mr Goff's claim that suspended sentences don't work is just an excuse to let offenders out of jail," Dr Mapp said.

Ends


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